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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

7 Book Marketing Mistakes Costing You Money

We all know that marketing your book effectively will make or break its success, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it could take far more money out of your wallet than you’ll get back in. Many advertising companies promise to get your book in front of the eyes of thousands or even millions of readers, but are their packages really worth the money? More than that, what tips can you use today that will boost your book sales tomorrow without costing a dime?

Here are the top 7 book marketing mistakes authors make and how you can avoid them.

1. Poor Optimization

You can boost your book easily without spending a dime. If you have access to your book’s metadata (the categories, keywords, and such), a couple of effective tweaks will help make your book far more visible to readers on the online store.

Always make sure that but your book is placed in the most accurate genre and categories you can find. This might include emailing Amazon to be placed in one of their not-so-obvious "hidden" categories. Also, check to make sure that your keywords are long (phrases, not words) and specific.

2. Budget Covers

Theoretically, you can make your book cover for free using a common stock photo and a freely available template, like those on Canva. Also, many Fiverr artists also don't charge much for their services and promise to offer you a quality book cover for under $10.

Unfortunately, you generally get what you pay for in the end. While I have had marginal success using a cheap Fiverr cover for a cliché, mass-market genre book I wrote as an experiment, cheap covers do not instill a lot of confidence in your readers. It's true that people do judge books by their covers, and this is one area where spending more is a good investment in the end.

If you're not comfortable flushing out hundreds of dollars for a custom cover, check out some pre-made covers online at places like These unique, quality covers are built by professional artists and available usually at a comparatively steep discount.

3. A Small Social Media Platform

Social media marketing might cost a pretty penny and be limited in its effectiveness for selling books, but social media itself is free. If you don't have an author page on Facebook, take the time to set one up. Hang out on Twitter and Instagram and meet other writers and readers in your genre.

These platforms are incredibly effective and can give you much more credibility as a writer. I'm not telling you to spend all day online (it shouldn't be very time consuming considering everything else that's on your plate), but spending a few minutes here and there being social can really help.

4. Not Collecting Emails

The mailing list, the mailing list--I know, I keep mentioning it. But that's because it's critical. If you have an active, enthusiastic mailing list of excited readers, they'll snatch up your books as soon as you promote them. This works repeatedly, and it works every time.

Knowing this, it's vital to learn how to collect emails and make sure that a good portion of yo promotions are targeted at building your list. The most common way to do this is through book giveaways. If you decide to do a giveaway for your book, use a service that will allow you to collect addresses while hosting your giveaway. This might cost more in the short run, but in the future, you'll be able to make many more sales.

5. Advertising Packages

Many advertising companies offer colorful packages for authors promising leaps in sales in exchange for high prices. Some of these are legitimate, but many are scams. Before you spend $500 to get millions of clicks on your book, consider how effective those clicks will be and how many of them will translate into sales.

I'm not saying you shouldn't buy an advertising package. Some can be very lucrative and very successful. But don't purchase anything without doing research first. Are these companies actually pitching your book to readers… or to other authors who are trying to promote their own books?

6. Paying for Reviews

Reviews are an especially frustrating topic for me personally. While Amazon has taken increasing steps in preventing authors from buying reviews to ensure accuracy and legitimate popularity, it's almost impossible to sell many copies of a book unless you have at least ten. That's hard to do if you're starting out.

The best way to get reviews is to allow readers and book bloggers to read a free copy of your book (an advanced review copy or ARC) in exchange for an honest review. This process takes work and time, and it's a good idea to get started early. However, the reviews you get in exchange are well worth the effort.

7. Bad Description, Rough First Page

Lastly, before you spend any money on advertising, check out how your book looks on the online store. we've already discussed the importance of having a good cover, but let's look at the rest of your offer.

How does your book description read? Is it interesting? Does it use effective keywords that will help it rank higher? A good book description is always worth spending extra time on. It's one of the top factors when readers decide whether to buy a book, after all.

Another thing to look at here is your first page. By this point, you probably already spent a lot of time in your book perfecting it and making sure it's a good read. But if your first page doesn't sell, neither will the book. Check a final time to make sure your writing is clear, easy to read, and engaging. You don't need purple prose or over-the-top action as long as you encourage more people to read onto the next page.

A key pointer in book marketing is to remember to work smarter, not harder. Remember that it's okay to invest in something that you care about, especially if you want your book to be a success. There's nothing wrong with spending money (even hundreds of dollars) on promotions that have proven to be effective for other authors and that you believe will work well for your book.

What other spending tips do you have? What’s been your most successful book marketing tactic? Please share in the comments below.


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